Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dealth Waltz... It's Released, Would You Care to Dance?

Are you ready for more Jurgasms?  I sure am! ~ Alana

**This is an Adult Romance and is not suitable for younger readers due to its mature content and strong language.**
Dark Creatures have descended upon Earth and Abaddon has taken control. He wants Liasare as his own mate because she is the Key to the Light. With her by his side, he can manipulate her power to unleash his evil across the universe.
Jurek and Liasare’s fight continues to prevent this. Unknown to them, a Praestani traitor resides among them. Can Jurek teach Liasare to wield her immense power in time to halt the traitor’s plans? Or will they end up in Abaddon’s clutches, waltzing to their death in this stunning conclusion to Dark Waltz.



I'm working through a re-read of Dark Waltz before I dive into Death Waltz.  Beyond having the first book fresh, I get jurgasms all over again.  Win-Win.  But, it'll take a wee bit longer for my review of Death Waltz.
 ~ Alana
Liasare entered their quarters as Jurek poured himself a drink. She stood and watched him toss back the entire glassful and pour himself another. When he was finished with the second, he faced her. The anger she’d expected wasn’t there. In its place was disappointment.

“You could’ve at least warned me. Do you think that was fair?”

“No. It wasn’t fair. I am sorry for that. But if I had told you ahead of time, we would’ve fought and argued for hours over it. And the end result would’ve been the same. We both know it’s coming to a head. I have to face him sooner or later and the truth is, I’m scared to death. So I’d rather not sit around and wait anymore, because all this waiting only makes it worse. The thought of January’s children locked in Abaddon’s realm brings me to my knees. So I must act.”

“You emasculated me, Liasare. In front of everyone. Those are my people. My subjects. Our subjects.” He threw his glass against the wall and she watched it shatter into dozens of tiny pieces. Oddly enough, it was the glass breaking that made her focus, because that was exactly how she didn’t want this to end.

“I’m sorry that’s the way it felt to you. To me it’s a way of drawing the hunter out. He knows we travel together. He may think I’m more vulnerable without you. My intentions were never to make you feel that way.”

Jurek knew within his heart what he needed to do, but abhorred the very idea of it. “Nevertheless, I suppose my feelings in this matter are irrelevant. Liasare, listen to me. Do not, under any circumstances, let your mind shield slip. He will attempt every trick he knows to cajole you into thinking you are safe. You are never safe. Understand me? When you enter Club Down, you will feel the worst brushes of evil abrading your power. Do not succumb to it. And whatever you do, even if you must sacrifice the lives of the Praestani that accompany you, keep yourself safe. Our species depends upon you. You are The Light. This is a great burden you carry, but it is also one you must protect at all costs. Tell me you understand this.”

His words imparted the gravity of what she would face in the hours ahead.

“I understand every word.”

Memories forced their way into Jurek’s mind, ones he didn’t particularly care to think about. They were when Liasare had been held captive by one of Abaddon’s minions. Then other memories infiltrated his head and pushed the hideous ones aside.

“Tell me something. Remember back in our early days together when I asked you never to lie to me?”

Liasare laughed. “How could I not? You scared me half to death most of the time.”

His voice was gruff with emotion when he said, “But you never cowered from me. You stood up to me like a soldier going to war, just as you do now. So tell me, what is the real reason you want me to stay behind?”

She flinched at his question. It wasn’t possible to avoid the truth, but by answering him, she knew it would cut him to the core. There was only one thing to do and that was to face him, head on, with brutal honesty.

“I need you here because I’m fairly certain when I return I will need all of your powers to heal me. Not only will you have to piece me back together again, Jurek, I will also need you to tend to Justus while I am healing. I don’t know what kind of shape I will be in, or whether I will be able to see him. I don’t want him to see me until I am myself again. At least if you remain here, you will be able to care for him while I am recovering.”

Though he expected an answer he wouldn’t like, her words viciously punctured his heart. “Christ, Liasare. And how do you expect me to send you out there, knowing this?”

“I’m not giving you that choice because it’s not yours to make.”

He reached out his arm and touched her face. “How can I do this?”

“This isn’t anything you can or can’t do. Don’t you see? It’s what must be done. It’s the prophecy, Jurek. It’s been written about centuries ago. I was born to do this. And either I go to him or he comes to me, but it will happen, one way or another.”

Their clothes were gone, vanishing like smoke in a breeze. His hands surfed her body, like he was skimming across the waves of the sea, memorizing every dip and curve as they moved. His lips followed the path his hands began, touching, kissing, and tasting every solid inch of her, pressing into her skin, molding themselves to her as they trailed along. He inhaled her scent, committed to memory her essence so when she was gone he could call it forth. The room brightened with his power as a burst of energy danced across her skin where his hands touched her.

Liasare responded in like, as her fingers weaved themselves into Jurek’s hair.

Emotion smothered her words as she began to speak but she forced it back because she wanted him to know what she felt at this moment. Her hand trembled when she raised it to brush a lock of his hair off his forehead. “The first time I ever saw you was that night as I sat drinking my beer. I believe it was in Cosmos. Do you remember?”

She waited for him to nod and when he did, she continued.

“Your skin was so glorious. You looked like an exotic gladiator, like the kind I had read about from the old history books on Earth. You were dressed in your leathers and your tawny skin glowed. I could see it even in that dim club we were in. And I couldn’t stop thinking about how handsome you were. I had never seen anyone like you before. And there I sat, holding my beer bottle, and I looked down at my arms as they were covered up because I was so scarred. I thought to myself then, ‘I wonder how it must feel to be that beautiful?’” Her hands lightly cupped his neck, thumbs tenderly pressing the hollow at his throat. Then, following the curves and arches of his shoulders and arms, fingers spread wide, she outlined every inch of him as if she were caressing him for the very first time. When she reached his fingertips, she kissed each one, and then journeyed to his torso, discovering the remainder of his body.

“I was so afraid back then. Of everything. And then I remember the first time you took me to the sanctuary, after you found and healed me. But I couldn’t forget what happened. You came to me that one night and knelt before me, begging me to talk to you.” Her brow was creased as she thought back to that night. She touched her lips to the center of his chest right over his heart before she continued. “I begged you to erase my memories. I had this burning need for you to make love to me to help me forget. I was madly in love with you. And I didn’t care if you loved me in return. I just needed to feel you inside of me. But I was afraid you’d refuse, like you’d done so many times before. I was slowly cracking into tiny pieces, bit by bit. And there you were, right in front of me, and I wanted so much to throw myself at you. I remember thinking again that you were the most beautiful site I’d ever seen in my life. I couldn’t imagine how any man could be so perfect. And as much as I was falling apart, I was more afraid that night that you would push me away one final time. Do you know something? I think if you had refused me, I would’ve found a way to end it all. But you didn’t. You said to me that if I consented, there’d be no turning back. That you played for keeps.” She smiled then. “Those were the greatest words I’d ever heard. I thought to myself, ‘Well, here he goes, saving my life again.’ And now you stand before me and somehow you’ve become even more beautiful than you were then. You are my heart, and will always be my heart. Facing the demon isn’t the worst thing I can imagine.” Cupping his face, she said, “The worst thing for me would be facing the rest of my life without you. I’m going to come back to you. But when I do, I’ll need you more than ever. So yeah, I want you here, safe, but also so you can heal me. Make love to me now, so that just for this little slice of time, I can forget what I’m about to face.”

Liasare never saw Jurek after he rescued her from near death or she would’ve recognized this emotion in him. His hands gripped her shoulders and he looked at her, his lavender eyes heavily laced with silver in their depths threatened to spill tears. “Liasare,” he began, but had to stop because he couldn’t go on. Swallowing several times, he began again, “Liasare, when you say things like this to me, it makes me want to carry you away from this dreadful place. I ... I am afraid. I’m afraid of letting you go. But I’m also afraid of putting my arms around you. Because if I do, I may not let you go. I know I must and I know you must do this ... this thing you’ve been charged with, but it’s my duty as your mate to protect you and here I am sending you to the damn demon himself.”

She didn’t give him a chance to say anything else before she kissed him, softly tasting and gently nipping at him.

Against his mouth she murmured, “I want to savor this moment, relish every second. I want it slow and easy, Jurek.”

They stood together, touching each other, as if it were their very first time.




A.M. Hargrove resides in the south, dividing her time between the upstate of South Carolina and the mountains of North Carolina. She truly believes that chocolate, coffee and ice cream should be added to the USDA food groups.
Her books include Adult, New Adult and Young Adult Romances, including, The Guardians of Vesturon (Survival, Resurrection, Determinant, reEmergent and the novella Beginnings); Dark Waltz (A Praestani Novel) Edge of Disaster, Shattered Edge, Kissing Fire, Tragically Flawed, Exquisite Betrayal and Tragic Desires.
Please find her at http://www.amhargrove.com
A.M. also writes under the name of Emerson St. Clair. Emerson's books include the Dirty Nights novella series.



Check Out My 5 Star Review of Dark Waltz HERE

Haven't started the series yet?  Well Book 1: Dark Waltz is FREE so get yours today.






Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bold Tricks Buzz +Excerpt +Giveaway

About BOLD TRICKS:
The Faster They Live, the Harder They Fall . . .
Raised by con artists, Ellie Watt has a lot of crazy childhood memories-but none crazier than being scarred with acid by the demented crime boss Travis Raines. Now Ellie is a full-grown woman who lives for revenge, and Travis is a full-blown drug lord who kills for pleasure. The sadistic bastard has kidnapped her good friend Gus as well as her mother, whom he's been holding as prized possessions in his heavily guarded lair. And Ellie has only one chance in hell of getting them out alive-using two dangerous men who love her to death . . . One is Camden McQueen, a talented tattoo artist who's made a permanent mark on Ellie's heart. The other is Javier Bernal, her fiery ex-lover who's busted more than a few heads in his time. From the crime-ridden streets of Mexico City to the predatory jungles of Honduras, this unlikely trio forms an uneasy alliance in the deadliest game of all-a gun-blazing battle to the finish that will pit enemy against enemy and lover against lover. And Ellie must choose the right man to trust . . . or die.

About Karina Halle:
Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and the USA Today Bestselling author of Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, and other wild and romantic reads. She lives in a 1920s farmhouse on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.

Karina’s SM:

Buy links:
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1BsL9zC 
Books-A-Million: http://bit.ly/1zKqcB0 
IndieBound: http://bit.ly/1wInERo 
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1z30DuP



BUZZ
I want to take a moment here to talk about just how much buzz this author has been getting.  I have read Sins and Needles and the Devils books, and can I just say, I am smitten overall.  Next thing is the fact that several (more than one) friends on Goodreads are practically obsessed with one series:
Experiment in Terror
Haven't read these yet, but I am intrigued!  If you haven't had the opportunity to read one of Karina's books, I highly recommend picking one up.  There is a little bit for everybody, or a book or series to nestle into any reading niche.

For anyone that has seen Joe vs. the Volcano, you may recognize this, "I have no response to that." I'm just flabbergasted. I haven't decided if that's a good thing or not. Regardless, this book demands 5♥'s. It's dark, and somehow eloquent in the roughest way possible and just engaging.

The entire book I was flip-flopping on how I felt about Camden and Ellie. I hated Ellie at first. Really hated her. *I still get a little shiver at my level of animosity.* Camden, hell with those tats and that specimen of manhood, I think my imagination ran away at his first page. I have a thing for tattoos, *sigh*.  And then he pissed me off, like I wasn't sure he could be redeemed pissed me off. My middle finger was getting quite the workout from all the rude gestures to my kindle.  And then the world shifted. *Boom*  Suddenly I'm hip deep in their train wreck of events and rooting for them. Characters I hated (at one point at least for each) I was picking up my mental pom-poms and cheering.  Strangest damn thing.

I mentioned it's dark, right? Like dark black velvet sky in the desert at night, it too has thousands and millions of sparkling points of light: hope, love, passion, obsession, revenge, regret, justification, acceptance. If you can look past and in between the dark, it has a raw beauty.

It has just plain addled my mind. "I have no response to that." I can't wrap my head around it and even decide if I liked it or not. But I want to read more, oh yes, definitely give me more.

From On Every Street by Dire Straits

"And even victory has a taste that's bittersweet."


 
Excerpt


The motel room was a lot nicer than the one we stayed at before. Sort of a Best Western, middle-ground quality of place. No roaches on the floors, no geckos on the wall. Shit mattresses, I discovered as I pounded my fist on the bed, but I didn’t care.
Camden had just put the final box on my bed, Violetta sprawled out on hers in a state of drug-induced euphoria, when I noticed Javier lingering at the doorway.
“I’m going to be meeting Dom in about twenty minutes,” Javier said to me. “Is that enough time for you to get ready?”
I frowned and he quickly added, “You know he’ll want you there, if this is going to get anywhere. I figured you might want to shower and look nice.”
He rapped his fingers along the doorframe, his mouth opening as if to say something else, then he turned and walked off.
Camden eyed me. “I’m going with you.”
“You might be kind of drunk, Camden,” I told him, though the determination in his voice warmed me like the finest cognac.
“I’ve never felt better,” he said, enunciating each word. His eyes, my god they were still such a clear fucking blue, even in the pallid light of the hotel room. They bore into me with such startling clarity, sending shivers down my back like trailing fingertips. He would be coming with me.
I wished he’d be coming in me. A vision of us in this hotel room, alone, him nailing me to the bed, the headboard banging, slammed into my head.
“Are you okay with that?” he asked.
I suppressed the thought, the flare of heat between my legs, and smiled quickly. “Yes, of course.”
Meanwhile Violetta’s head flopped to the side, her arm still bound to her stiffly in the sling, and started snoring lightly. I motioned to her. “Do you think it’s safe to leave her here?”
He watched her for a few moments, blinking a few times, before saying, “I think she needs to sleep it off.” He went and sat down on my bed. “I’ll be here when you get out.”
I grabbed my bag of clothes I had brought out of the car and brought it into the bathroom. I had a quick shower, trying to rub off all the grim – both real and imagined – with the flimsy hotel soap, then picked through my clothes. Everything that had been in my trunk was musty and wrinkled, some even dirty. I had a packet of unopened (and decidedly unsexy) Hanes underwear, a bra, another pair of jeans, a pair of gladiator sandals that I thought were dressy enough, a pair of Timberland hiking boots, a plain white tee shirt, a couple of wife-beaters, a coral-colored blouse, a plaid shirt, and a light blue tank dress that went to the ground. I wasn’t exactly known for my fashion sense and even with the cherry blossoms covering the scars on my leg, bringing me beauty that I didn’t have before, I didn’t see myself branching out anytime soon. Dressing up in my old clothes for Javier hadn’t exactly helped either.
I slipped on the tank dress, opting to go commando for the evening, and put on the sandals. I looked at myself in the mirror. Once again, I felt like a different person was staring back at me. This me, this Ellie, was tired and hardened. I rubbed the residue mascara away from under my eyes and applied a new coat. My skin was brown from the sun now and I didn’t need much else.
When I came out of the bathroom, Camden straightened up on the bed. I felt strangely shy in front of him, especially as his eyes trailed up and down the length of me.
“Do I look okay?” I asked him, feeling the need to say something. “I mean, if you can see me, that is.”
He bit his lip and stared, a multitude of emotions flashing through his eyes, too fast for me to pick up on each individual one. I thought I saw lust in there – maybe that’s what I wanted to see.
When he still didn’t say anything, I walked over to the dresser where I had my clutch purse left over from the other night at Travis’s and rifled through it for my lip stuff. His silence at my back was a heavy weight, laden with too many uncertainties between us. It was eating at me, burning through me, rendering me with a lead heart. There were so many things I had to focus on, to worry about, fucking impossible things, and yet I needed him to tell me I looked beautiful. I needed him to tell me I was something to him.
I heard him get off the bed and walk toward me, that heaviness, that warmth that he brought with his bones, teased at my back. He stopped, close enough to touch me, and I was about to turn around, perhaps to do something foolish, when he crouched down.
“How is my art?”
His hands found my leg, one of them lifting the hem of my dress, the other slowly moving over the cherry blossom tattoo. I sucked in my breath, holding completely still, trying to contain my nerves that were firing wildly as his fingers ran along the ridges of the ink. He touched me gently over every vine, leaf and petal, until I had to supress a shaky moan that that tried to escape from my lips.
“It feels fine,” I said softly when I found my voice.
“It looks beautiful,” he said.
“I had a beautiful artist,” I told him. I turned at the waist and look down at him, my blue dress glowing in his tanned hand, his other one placed firmly around my calf, his strong fingers imparting heat that sunk deep. He was looking up at me, lips parted slightly.
I couldn’t take a second more of this.
I turned and dropped to the ground, my knees rubbing against his.
I grabbed his face, his rough stubble pressing into my palms, and kissed him.
Hard.
There was surprise for a second, a hesitation, a pulse that refused to beat on. Then Camden kissed me back, his soft lips enveloping mine, his mouth opening to give me life. He put his hand behind my head, holding it there with power and control.
My heart was an elevator car, the cable suddenly snapped, and I was freefalling and falling and falling as his lips and tongue and hot, wet mouth took away every inch of my resolve. The more he kissed me, the deeper and longer we found each other, the thirstier I got for him. I felt like if we stopped, I would die, empty on the inside and forever longing.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bright Fire Cover Reveal +Excerpt

Bright Fire

by MJ Austin

YA Fantasy

Synopsis
Delfia thought she was a normal girl about to turn sixteen until her adoptive parents are murdered by creatures from the underworld. Her life gets thrown into chaos as she teams up with her best friend, a strange guy, and a prophetess. 
She soon discovers her biological father, Hades, ordered the attack on her and her family because a prophecy names her as the one to take him down. She must first complete a set of tasks to free Persephone, her mother, from the underworld and defeat Hades. 
Will she be reunited with her mother or will she get sucked into the underworld?
*Book is geared towards readers that liked Percy Jackson Series, Need Series, etc.*

Excerpt

Mondays are the epitome of all evil. It's just a fact.
Do you ever get those feelings deep in the pit of your stomach? The ones that make you feel all queasy and anxious? Well, that’s how I feel right now. I am standing at my locker at a way too early hour, and I am in Dragon Bitch mode; which is surprising because today is my birthday.
Normally, I love my birthday. I officially turn 16 at 11:59 tonight, and instead of reveling in the excitement, am I staring at my locker without really seeing it. I just keep trying to figure out what’s causing this annoying pinch in my stomach. I jump when I hear the locker next to mine slam shut.
Lyla.
"Jeez, Lyla,” I huff. “How many times do I have to tell you not to do that? Now excuse me while I find a doctor to remove my heart from my nasal passage." I’m not in the mood for the early morning antics of Lyla Browning, even if she is my best friend.
"Soooorrry, but it seems to be the only way to get your attention. I say 'Happy birthday, Dell' and what do you do? You ignore me and stare at your locker. What is up with you?"
"Nothing, just a funny feeling."
She eyes me for a minute, then shrugs her shoulders and in a matter-of-fact tone tells me, "It's probably PMS."
“Yeah, maybe I dunno...” I trail off, the feeling still bugging me. I understand that she is trying to snap me out of it so I muster up some enthusiasm and sing, “Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me.”
She perks up instantly, and before I can clamp my hand over her mouth she starts bellowing out “Happy Birthday” in the middle of the hall that is seriously starting to fill up. By the time she finishes, everyone is staring at us, and my face is burning red.
“Aww come on, you love me and you know it,” she beams.
I smile because I do love her. Lyla and I have been best friends since forever. We first met in kindergarten when this little twerp, Zach Moreno, decided to pull my hair, and she punched him square in the nose.
We’ve been joined at the hip ever since then.
“But hey, you should be thrilled you’re turning 16.” she nudges me in the ribs a little.
“Yeah, I know, but my parents still won't let me get my permit till I’m 18.”
“No offense, but your parents are a little...intense.” She says.
“What do you mean by that?” I ask getting a bit defensive.
“Well, it’s just that lately they seem to be taking your safety to the extreme. You can't have sleepovers anymore, a car or a life. I mean it’s sweet that they care, but I thought parents got more lenient the older you get.” She fidgets with her wavy blond hair, afraid that she has gone too far.
The truth is she’s not wrong. My parents are great people, and I love them, but lately they have been too over-protective. When I ask them about it they just tell me, “the real world is full of dangers, kiddo.”
and that’s the end of that conversation. “Yeah, I know, I’m sure that is just their way of showing me that they care.”
“By the way, are we still on for binge night Friday?” She sees right through my attempts to change the subject. Binge night has been happening every Friday since the 6th grade. We start off at the roller rink and end up at my place with a large bag of cheddar popcorn, candy, and cokes.
“Uh, duh.” She says rolling her eyes. She grabs her stuff out of her locker. “Come on, we have homeroom.”
I turn to grab my bag out of my locker when the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Everybody gets those feelings now and then, but it was so intense I had to shiver to shake it off.
“Dude, what is your problem? Take a picture it lasts longer.” Lyla clicks her tongue, her usual reaction when something annoys her.
I whirl around to see who she is talking to and meet the gray eyes of Alec Hales, who is staring at me intensely like he’s waiting for something to happen. He would be the hottest guy in school if he weren't so weird. He continues to stare at me unabashed. I can’t help but stare back.
“Come on,” she grabs my arm. “This guy is freaking me out” She throws him the stink eye, and we head to class.
I spend the rest of the morning stumbling through class in a daze worried about that creepy stare. I’ve never seen anything like it.
What’s worse is that I’m pretty sure he’s the reason I had a chill that ranked 100 on the creep factor. OK, Dell get a grip, I tell myself as I walk into the cafeteria.
I do my normal scan and Lyla’s waiting for me at our usual table in the corner of the room, trays in tow. We are not the least popular students, but we are definitely not a part of the in-crowd. Lyla could be, but she sticks with me. Aside from her slightly crooked nose, she is the picture perfect replica of a Barbie doll, with her blond hair, green eyes, and mile-long legs. You get the picture. Me, on the other hand, my height is OK, not too short or too tall, but my drab brown hair and beanpole body are nothing special. The only thing I have going for me is my clear blue eyes. Lyla always calls them hypnotic.
“Ugggghhh,” she whines as she rolls her shoulders back and forth. “I think the teachers are secretly evil demons sent to torture teens with tests on Mondays. Seriously, who wants to take tests on Mondays?”
“Who wants to take tests at all?”
She throws a piece of lettuce at me. With a mouth full of food she asks, “What are your birthday plans?”
“Dinner with the family.”
“Same old, same old,” she laughs “maybe we can do something special for binge night like go shopping before the roller rink.”
“Yeah, that would be...” I trail off instantly when I feel the same eerie feeling I had by my locker. I lean into Lyla and whisper, “Is Alec staring at me?” She lifts her head up, and I pull her down. “Can’t you be discreet?” I hiss.
She subtly does a sweep of the cafeteria and relaxes, “Nope; nowhere in sight. Why do you ask?”
“I just got this creepy feeling earlier and again just now. I thought maybe it was his intense stare earlier.”
“Wow, I hope your weird doesn't rub off on me. Do you think it happens to everyone when they turn 16?” she jokes.
I laugh half-heartedly unable to shake the strange feeling.

About the Author

M.J. Austin has always found the world of fantasy preferable to the real world. She channels this love of mystical worlds and creatures into her writing. She is an avid reader and proud bookworm. She has a Master's Degree in Project Management, but her true passion is writing.
When she isn't working or writing she is diving into random projects as often as possible. She lives in Tennessee with three children, husband, and three dogs.
Read more about M.J. at http://www.mjaustinbooks.com

Contact MJ Austin

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Ashes Fall (James Matthews Book #3) +Excerpt +Giveaway

Ashes Fall (James Matthews Book #3)

Adrian J. Smith 


Book Description

Publication Date: September 1, 2014

Eleven years after the love of her life dies, James hopes everything would be normal and works to construct her reality as such. Her adopted daughter, Lily, finishes her sophomore year of high school with nothing other than good grades, a best friend for life, and goals for the future. James, after stepping back into the dating world, has a girlfriend with a steady, non-life-threatening job. Life is as peaceful as it can be. But a day at the waterpark with her daughter reveals the largest crack in the fa├žade.

And nothing can stop chaos from ensuing. 

Purchase Links

Smashwords | Amazon US  | Amazon UK  | Amazon CA | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes






Excerpt #1 

Darcy pushed James back with fear written all over her face. She stared past James' shoulders. It took James longer than she wanted to turn around and see what was going on. Lily stood with her eyes blazing, lit full of colors. The bottoms of her irises were blue and moved up into the colors of flames as they reached the top. James shuddered and jerked to stand, her hand outstretched in front of Darcy, which was exactly where Lily was looking.
"Lily!"
James blinked and saw her daughter's hand raise up, knife perched in her fingers like she was going to carve the turkey. Lily shook her head and took a step forward, making for the back of the couch and where she would be able to reach Darcy. Darcy scrambled back, knocking two pillows and a blanket onto the floor. She huddled behind James and next to the television—all windows and doors on the other side of the room.
Moving her hand and arm back, James told Darcy to move even farther away. She could always run to the bedroom if need be but getting out those windows would be difficult. Maybe the bathroom would be a better option—there was a lock on that door. James swallowed and took a deep breath.
"What's going on Lily?"
Lily cocked her head to the side and stared at her mom. "She was going to hurt you."
"I assure you she wasn't."
Her daughter’s voice sounded strange. Distant like it wasn’t really Lily talking. James furrowed her brow and tried to work her own mind into Lily’s. There was always hope she could sway her daughter into acting rashly, or at least rashly enough she could get the knife out of her hands.
“She’s cheating on you,” Lily said to Darcy.
“Enough!” James cried and took a step toward Lily, trying to be fearless through her panic. “Even if I was, that’s no reason to come in here with that thing in your hands.”
Lily looked down at her hand and the knife still between her fingers. She blinked once and twice before looking back up at James, her eyes changed. Reaching out with her palm up and her fingers loosened, Lily handed the weapon over to James.
James took it and shoved it behind her back for Darcy to take. When Darcy didn’t come forward, James set the knife down on the television stand two feet behind her, not taking her eyes off Lily. She breathed more rapidly as the situation dissipated. Lily shook her head and plopped down on the couch, most of the energy drained from her body.
In two seconds, their lives had changed.

Excerpt #2

“Lily?  Are you cleaning?” Her mother’s voice carried through the closed door.
“Yeah!” she called back and stood, racing to the window to open it for ventilation and to rid the smell from the room and lit an incense stick.
Turning back, she slid her hands over her jeans and looked around the room. Her mom was right; it did need to be cleaned. She moved to her desk and picked up a plastic bag. Shoving some pieces of trash and extra papers into it, she cleared off her stereo. Gnawing on her lip, Lily put her iPod on shuffle and waited for the first song to ring through the speakers. Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation burst through the room. Lily smirked and pressed the volume button repeatedly until she could hear nothing other than the lyrics and notes.
“Much better,” she said.
Picking the clothes up off the floor, she deposited them into the laundry basket without checking to see if they were clean or dirty, which meant her floor was picked up in no time. Continuing with her desk, dresser, and nightstand tops, she threw most everything away. She paused when she found a notebook set on the corner of the desk. Opening the cover carefully, she smiled. The book was her diary from years before. She read through the first few pages but set it aside and decided she would finish cleaning first.
Twenty minutes later, she sat on her bed and opened the notebook. The cover had pink and purple sweet peas painted on the front. They had been her favorite flowers for a few years. The first page contained a “This Book Belongs to Alyssa a.k.a. Lily Stanton-Matthews” written carefully in bubbly letters with a swirl just under the last line. She had scrawled about the boy she liked in middle school and the teachers she hated. Lily smiled at the memory and reached into her nightstand for a pen. Opening the book to the first blank page, she wrote.
My mom is dating someone new, and I don’t like her. I think my mom suspected I wouldn’t. They met on a dating website of all things. I never thought she would go on one of those, but I also never thought she would date again either. Not after Addy.
The new chick is a bitch. All she does is glare at me. She hardly ever speaks to anyone other than my mom, and she never has any fun. Not that a pharmacist would have fun. She also never leaves. She’s always here. I’m pretty sure she’s even coming to our dinner tonight. I don’t like her at all. I miss Addy. Now, I’m stuck with queen-B and her attitude. My mom deserves so much better than her.
Lily paused and read over what she wrote. The words were like a real diary entry, and they satisfied her. Tapping the pen against the paper, she heard her door open again. Looking up, she watched as her mom walked into the room and turned the stereo down.
“Looks good,” she said, scrunching her nose as she sniffed the air.
“I try.”
James rolled her eyes. “Are you done, then?”
“Yeah, just have to take out the trash, and I’ll vacuum tomorrow.”
“Sounds like a plan. Might want to bring up an air freshener, too.” James stood awkwardly halfway between the stereo and the bed where Lily sat. “Want to come down and help make dinner?”
“Sure, what are we having?”
“Butternut squash and parmesan breaded chicken.”
Lily grinned. “My favorite.”
“I thought you’d like it.”
“I’ll be down in a second. I’m going to take the trash out.”
She watched as James nodded and left the room. Lily opened her book up to where she had written her previous entry. She scribbled down a quick sentence before grabbing the small grocery bag filled with trash and heading down the stairs. Leaving the book open on her bed, Lily gave it one glance before exiting the room. No one would see what she had written. She fully believed what she wrote was truth, but even if someone did see it, they probably wouldn’t think she was serious.
Darcy Greystone must die. 

Forever Burn (Book #1)

Firefighters are trained to keep calm in the face of extraordinary events, but James was never prepared for this.

Saving people is a regular practice in a firefighter’s line of work; it is not something extraordinary or unusual. Just routine. James has been trained to respond to emergency calls and what to do in difficult situations. For James, the most important part of her work is that she knows how to run into a burning building to save a life. She is a firefighter not for the glory and not for the honor. She is there to make a difference.

Working hard has always been a common practice for James, but when her secret significant other is pressuring her to solidify their relationship, tensions start to rise. James is being pushed into turning her life upside down and inside out. She can’t stop disturbing dreams about a little girl she saved from a house fire years prior. She struggles to find balance through the pressures and stressors of her daily life, but she still can’t shake the ill-fated feeling that something is wrong.

Dying Embers (Book #2)

She thought she was on a new path, but life keeps tugging Addison Lee back to her past and her gift. Addison struggles to make a new life in Norwich, one where she can be the Battalion Chief of Fire Station Seven and live life as she sees fit. She wants a life without the complications of an ex-fiance and a job that put her life on the line for little more than a gift she was born with. Learning the ropes of a new job can always be tough, and being a Battalion Chief means she has a great responsibility to her crew and to the city.
Nervous about her first day already, Addison realizes that adding in a one-night stand with a future employee has left her on rocky ground. Plagued by visions of a dying woman, Addison continues to cope with difficulties at her new job. She has no idea who the dying woman is, where she is, or even, when she is-and no means to find out.
Addison is distracted from the dying woman and her new job when called to Wyoming on an emergency, where she discovers it's not as easy to leave her past behind as she hoped.

About the Author

Adrian J. Smith, or “AJ” as she is often called, has a generous and soft heart. She loves to rescue stray cats and dogs, as well as those who just escape. Her hoard of animals currently includes two cats, a dog and a fish, but no children as of yet. She’s passionate about LGBT et al rights, women’s rights and children’s rights. AJ loves to read and write lesbian fiction, simply for the fact that strong women make her swoon and when two are involved her knees turn to jelly and she falls head over heels in love. AJ travels around the United States, and sometimes the world, gathering up stories for her novels. Currently, she lives in the middle of nowhere of the middle of nowhere and is rather difficult to find except on the internet, where she spends a lot of her time.

Contact Links

@AdrianAJSmith
www.facebook.com/adrianjsmithbooks
adrianjsmith.wordpress.com
www.goodreads.com/adrianjsmith


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Popstars, Friends, and Lovers by Karen Gordon +Excerpt

Popstars, Friends, and Lovers...a dreamer's tale

Burnouts Series #2

Karen Gordon


Book Description

Publication Date: November 2, 2014

“The poorest man is not the one with no penny in his pocket, but the one who has no dream.”  – The Burnouts, Class of ‘99 

For two weeks Steve Shrader lived a dream. A dream that he didn’t even know existed until he felt it. For two weeks he had love - in the form of Hello Kitty bandaids and hot soup and his best friend, MG. Then he screwed up, like he always did, and the dream he was living went away. 

Now school is over, MG is gone and he’s headed down the only path he knows; drifting along and numbing himself with drugs and alcohol. But he’s seen a better life. He’s seen what he wants. He wants MG. The question is how to get to her from where he is now. 

MG dreams of living large in New York City - in a kick-ass apartment with a glam fashion job and photo shoots with rich friends in magazines. She left everything familiar back home in St. Louis and everything she thought she knew about Manhattan and life isn’t turning out to be true. 

When MG's dreams crumble and fall though her hands she’s left with what’s real. A real life with a real job and real problems. And maybe, real love. 

Purchase Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Excerpt

Junior Prom, 1998

They all piled into the limo, ready for food and a reprieve from the stares and drama that had been prom. Steve scooted across the bench seat to make room for his dates: Carrie, Casey, Gina, and MG. Casey wanted the window seat so she crawled over his lap, almost kneeing him in the balls on her way.
 “Case, jezus!” He doubled over, protecting himself.
Her look of surprise said she hadn’t really noticed who she had just climbed over.
Gina and Carrie arranged themselves on either side of him, popped off their high-heeled shoes and draped their legs across his to rest their feet. He unconsciously grabbed their toes and started rubbing, causing both of them to moan in ecstasy. But his mind was on MG, kneeling on the rear facing seat with her butt squarely in his field of vision while she gave the driver directions to the all-night pancake restaurant.
At least fifteen different guys must have come up to him tonight and high-fived or fist bumped him for having four dates to prom. Fifteen guys who normally never talked to him but probably talked about him as a burnout, drug addict, loser. He’d never considered himself the smartest guy, but he was sure as shit smarter than them when it came to girls.
It started when he was fourteen. Girls started coming on to him, usually older ones. That was the summer he grew five inches and towered over all his friends at a gangly six feet tall. That was also the summer that his dad stopped making him get his hair cut. Women of all ages couldn’t seem to keep their hands out of the dark brown waves.
Desiree was sixteen and lived in his apartment complex. She gave him his first joint and first kiss and he was hooked. He loved everything about both, especially the way they made him feel. Having grown up with only his dad and brother, girls were exotic to him and he couldn’t get enough time hanging out with them. He wanted to hear what they had to say, study their bodies, taste them, smell them, make them smile. Desiree and her friends taught him how to do just that in a way that guaranteed they couldn’t get pregnant. He had hours and hours of oral lessons from his first girlfriends. When he met MG he volunteered to teach her, then Casey, then Gina (though they never got that far). He’d be happy to go over the finer points with Carrie too if she ever asked.
“Don’t stop!” Carrie moaned and he went back to rubbing her feet. Casey took off her shoes and stuck her feet on his lap too. He rotated rubbing Carrie’s, then Gina’s, then Casey’s. MG’s were notably missing.
♪   ☺   ♥

The tough-looking night shift waitress at Paul’s Pancakes flirted with him. She teased him about what he had to keep four dates happy then passed him her number on the back of the check.
Gina saw it first when she grabbed the check to divide the total by five. “So, who do you think this is for?” She joked as she held it up to show the others. They all smirked at Steve.
He shrugged off his innocence. “What?” There was no jealousy in the group. If he wanted to call the waitress he could. But that was the problem too, there was no jealousy, especially not from the one he wanted it from.
MG wiped the last of the syrup from her plate with her finger and licked it off. Steve watched her with rapt attention. Try as he might he couldn’t give up the hope that she might really care, that he hadn’t majorly fucked up when he told her that he loved her. He breathed out his frustration and looked away. Carrie caught him and gave him a small smile of understanding. She had it just as bad for her neighbor Ben as he did for MG.
He thought back to the two weeks when he had lived at MG’s house. His older brother Tony (better known as Stony) had come home wasted and beat the crap out of him. When he got to a pay phone the only person he wanted to call was MG and she didn’t hesitate to drive in a snow-storm and come get him. Then she took care of him, well, her and her mom. She put Hello Kitty band-aids all over him and made him laugh through his pain. She made stupid airplane noises and fed him soup because he could hardly move his shoulder and his lip was too swollen to eat solids his first day there. She fell asleep, spooned against him, watching movies on the couch in her upstairs TV room. He even stayed through Christmas. She bought him fingerless gloves and a hat, and her mom spent way too much on a new leather jacket for him. Best damn Christmas he could ever remember. Best two weeks he could ever remember. He wanted more of it.
But he fuckin blew it. Somewhere in the middle of telling her about his memories of his step-mom, he told MG that he loved her. He meant it, but he should have kept his mouth shut. Ever since then, they were still friends, but … it just wasn’t the same. She barely touched him anymore.
♪   ☺   ♥
After pancakes they were all back at MG’s house where Steve was sprawled on the couch in the upstairs TV room. He had changed out of his tuxedo and was waiting for the girls to finish changing. It was past two a.m. and he had really had enough for the night, but MG insisted they needed to stay out all night. He slumped over the plump arm of the soft chenille sofa. Gina came in and flopped across the giant bean bag chair, looking like she had had enough too. Carrie and Casey both stretched out on the carpeted floor, sharing one of the big floor pillows for their heads.
“Don’t go to sleep,” he warned. “She’ll drag your ass down the stairs and out the door.” When it came to fun, MG was determined. If she wanted to stay out all night, they would all stay out all night, even if she had to drag them kicking and screaming.
But MG took too long to get ready (nothing new there) and they were all breathing deeply, sound asleep, when she came in the room.
“Come on you guys,” she pleaded to the silent room, then gave up when no one stirred and pulled a pile of blankets from the hall linen closet. Through half-open eyes Steve watched her drape a blanket over Carrie and Casey, then Gina. He closed his eyes when she sat on the coffee table in front of him, wondering what she would say or do if she thought he was asleep. She reached forward and twirled some of his wavy hair around her finger. She had been doing that ever since they met sophomore year. It made his hair stand up and her laugh.
He was half on the couch, one leg still on the floor. She laid the blanket over him and leaned in and sniffed his shirt when she tucked it around his neck. Hopefully smelling his cologne (not that he owned any). He had stopped by Walgreens to use a sample on his way to her house.
His heart lurched when he felt her climb over him and under the blanket and snuggle into his back. Her arm wrapped around him and burrowed into a warm spot against his chest. He opened his eyes and swallowed, willing his traitor heart to slow down before she could feel his reaction to her, that stupid hope he worked hard to keep buried. In his mind “Love Sucks” by the Addicts played in a loop ‘til he fell asleep.

Burnouts, Geeks, and Jesus Freaks (Burnouts #1)

Goodreads

Publication Date: February 24, 2014

They’re burnouts - a little short on parents, money and plans for the future, but they’ve got each other and a whole lot of fun. With a world of crazy at home, Carrie Gould needs them to keep her sanity. To stay in their world she needs to keep dating the guy with the party house, which would be fine, if she hadn’t fallen in love with someone else.
He’s such a geek. Ben Gorman is obsessive, smart, strong-willed and on the fast track to his dream of becoming an Army Ranger. He’s also the only geek with a girl. Joelle Welker is perfect for him; a self-proclaimed Jesus freak, who is dedicated to her beliefs and to building a future with Ben. But those plans don’t include his neighbor, Carrie, or Ben’s dedication to her. 
Their friendship started by chance. Their love started with trust.
***This book is recommended for readers age 17 and older due to sexual content.  

Purchase Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK

About Karen Gordon

Karen Gordon was born and raised in the suburban paradise of St. Charles, MO, on the outskirts of St. Louis. She earned a B.S. in English from the University of Central Missouri (BS being the operative term) and a M.A. in Media Communications from Webster University, where, always a rebel, she graduated in a hot pink motarboard because she didn’t like the school colors.

She currently resides in Olive Branch, MS (formerly Cow Pen) on the outskirts of Memphis, TN with her 2.5 super-smart kids, and an amazingly-funny, cute, geeky husband.
When not writing, she is a stay-at-home mom (chick in charge) and part-time teacher. Any down time is spent reading, catching up with friends and obsessively worrying about every little thing.

Her first novel, “Burnouts, Geeks and Jesus Freaks: a love story” was published in March of 2014 with the second novel in the Burnouts series, “Popstars, Friends & Lovers: a dreamer’s tale” being released in November, 2014. She is currently working on the third, and final, novel in the series, tentatively title “Boi H.E.A.”

Contact Karen Gordon

Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Twitter: @joiedemidvivre | Email | Pinterest | Google +



 


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